‘IT TAKES YOU AWAY’
Please feel free to comment on my review.
Into The Anti-Zone and the Solictract
It’s the penultimate episode of Series 11 of’ ‘Doctor Who’! At the time, I felt sad that this season of ‘Doctor Who’ was coming to an end! I was enjoying Series 11 so far in 2018 and very pleased I saw it.
I found this ‘Doctor Who’ season had been pretty good so far. I was enjoying the character journeys of the Thirteenth Doctor, Graham, Ryan and Yaz and hoped it would all be good in the season finale!
So what’s this penultimate ‘Doctor Who’ episode in Series 11 about then? Well, ‘It Takes You Away’ is an episode by Ed Hime, a new writer to the TV series. I found this episode to be a pretty good one.
The story is set in the Norweigan fjords of 2018. The Doctor, Graham, Ryan and Yaz come across an isolated house where a scared girl lives inside. She’s alone and seems to be without her father here.
I like how the episode begins with the Doctor, Graham, Ryan and Yaz investigating something and they become curious about it. This is something that has become a thing for the Jodie Whittaker era.
Wherever and whenever the Thirteenth Doctor TARDIS team head to in time and space, they seem to be investigating something. This is something I prefer as opposed to what was in the previous era.
Apparently, there’s this monster that comes to steal people away. It scares the blind girl, Ellie Wallwork as Hanne, who hides underneath a table in her house. The Doctor and friends help Hanne.
I was pleasantly surprised to see a blind person represented in this ‘Doctor Who’ episode. This put me in mind of the blind people that I had seen in fiction such as ‘The Moon Stallion’ and ‘Daredevil’.
Very soon, the Doctor and her friends find themselves going through a mirror that doesn’t reflect people’s images all of the time. I did wonder if this episode was actually going to be about vampires.
I also wondered whether Graham and Ryan had turned into vampires when they couldn’t see their reflection in the mirror. That would’ve been fun and interesting to see if that occurred in the tale. 😀
Thankfully that’s not the case, as the mirror is actually a portal to a gateway or a corridor of a cave-like structure to another universe that has a consciousness. The corridor is known as…the Anti-Zone.
I found this concept of two universes connected to each other by the cave-like Anti-Zone intriguing. I also wondered if the Doctor and friends could resist the desires of a conscious universe in the story.
Now from watching this episode, you’d think this was one of those complicated timey-wimey episodes from the Steven Moffat era. But for the most part, I was able to follow what was going on.
And this was without too much trouble. I believe this was down to the strong character drama featured throughout the episode. It appealed to me very much as I watched it through and through.
Yeah there were things about this episode that I didn’t get initially. This concerns the intersection between two mirrors; the concept of this conscious universe and how the Solitract is meant to work.
But the more I thought about it, the more I found the ideas interesting, plausible and easy to comprehend. Even after watching this episode a couple more times, I was able to appreciate it more.
I suppose it helped with the fact that this episode had an Earth setting in Norway, 2018. Also, like I said, there was some pretty compelling character drama to be featured throughout this TV episode.
That’s not just from the regular cast but from the supporting characters too. The character drama’s been good in this season throughout, which is something I struggled to identify in previous seasons.
I didn’t feel like anything was silly or being played for laughs in this episode. I was able to take things seriously; especially in finding the science-fiction concepts and the emotional drama easy to take in.
You think for one moment that the episode’s going to be about something; then it turns into something else completely. It didn’t disappoint me and I found how much everything held together.
I also found it interesting to see a blind girl in this ‘Doctor Who’ episode through Hanne’s character and how she was depicted. This involved her being scared and wanting to see her own father again.
Hanne seemed to be feisty and reckless throughout the episode, especially when going through the Anti-Zone. It was also pretty interesting when Hanne sensed her mother was not real in the Solitract.
I enjoyed it when the Doctor, Graham and Yaz had to gain the assistance of Kevin Eldon as the alien-like Ribbons in order to gain passage through the Anti-Zone. Ribbons seemed to be a slimy character.
Ribbons is also greedy for profit. He put me in mind of a Ferengi from ‘Star Trek’. This is especially when he wants the Doctor’s sonic screwdriver. I am surprised he didn’t ask for gold press latinum. 😀
It was tense when there were these flesh moths that came out to attack and were attracted to Ribbons’ red glowing lamp light. It got tenser when the Doctor, Graham and Ryan had to remain still.
This was when the flesh moths killed Ribbons after going for the Doctor’s sonic screwdriver on the ground. Thankfully the trio ran for their lives away and escaped from the flesh moths chasing them.
The episode also features Christian Rubeck as Erick, Hanne’s father, who has been on the other side of the Anti-Zone with Hanne’s mother, Lisa Stokke as Trine. The set-up between them was intriguing.
The episode also features a surprise return guest appearance of Sharon D. Clarke as Grace O’Brien. I wasn’t expecting to see Grace back in ‘Doctor Who’ as she’d died in ‘The Woman Who Fell To Earth’.
Jodie Whittaker is wonderful as the Doctor in this episode. I found how increasingly confident she became in the role during Series 11 and I felt that she’d managed to find her feet with the character.
There were some pretty amusing moments with Jodie’s Doctor featured throughout the episode. The soil eating moments in the episode were quite strange to watch with Jodie’s Doctor, but still. 😀
I enjoyed the intensity in those emotional moments when Jodie’s Doctor tried to explain what was going on with the Solitract. Here, she tries to persuade everyone to get out of the Solitract universe.
This is in order to return everyone to their home universe. I like how Jodie’s Doctor worked things out in the episode. I liked it when she told herself not to panic as Yaz assumed she was talking to her.
I was anxious when the Doctor might lose her own sonic screwdriver to Ribbons since he wanted to buy it from her. The Doctor manages to maintain her cool when she’s negotiating with Ribbons here.
She also manages not to let him have her sonic screwdriver, despite him getting killed in the process. I liked it when the Doctor tells Graham and Yaz not to move a muscle with those flesh moths about.
It’s interesting when it got revealed that the Doctor had seven grandmothers in the days of youth. I’m not sure whether that’s actually seven grandmothers or seven incarnations of the same person.
Take your pick. It was a bit amusing when it was revealed one of the Doctor’s grandmothers was a Zygon secret agent. Not sure if it’s a bad thing or a good thing. The Doctor may imply it’s a bad thing.
Bradley Walsh steals the show as Graham in this episode. This episode features some defining moments in Graham’s character. Wendy Padbury also liked Bradley Walsh at Cardiff, March 2019. 😀
I did a double-take when it turned out Graham had been keeping cheese and pickle sandwiches in his pocket whilst travelling about in time and space should he get hungry. (Pause) Well, obviously! 😀
But the strongest set of defining moments for Graham is when he finds himself reunited with his former dead wife, Grace. Graham finds it a struggle to let go of Grace when he meets her again here.
This is before Graham finds out that she isn’t real the Grace at all and that she’s a fake. The emotional moments with Graham’s character in this episode have been pretty standout throughout.
Tosin Cole is equally good as Ryan in this episode. Ryan becomes suspicious about Hanne having been abandoned by her father and he mistakenly makes the assumption her father doesn’t love her.
I suppose this comes from Ryan’s own experience his dad back home. Despite making that mistake, Ryan is still suspicious as he struggles to get on with Hanne when he’s meant to be looking after her.
Hanne doesn’t take to Ryan much either in the episode, as she knocks him out before going into the Anti-Zone to find her father. Ryan does catch up with Hanne when following her into the Anti-Zone.
The two do get on with each other later on in the episode and get over their differences. Hanne even hugs Ryan at the end. I liked that moment when Ryan calls Graham ‘granddad’ at the end of the tale.
Mandip Gill is very good as Yaz in the episode. I don’t think this has been a particularly standout episode for Yaz’s character here, but she does have a pretty fair share of good moments throughout.
I liked it when Yaz comes to Hanne’s defence since she rebukes Ryan’s suspicions about her father. She seems more compassionate and sensitive than Ryan is, suiting her former police constable role.
I’d like to think that Yaz is the person who’s there to explain to the audience what the Doctor’s on about describing the Solitract. Yaz does cope well due to her police officer skills during this TV story.
This is especially when the TARDIS gang investigate Hanne’s father’s disappearance. I liked it when Yaz accompanies the Doctor and Graham into that Anti-Zone whilst Ryan and Hanne remain behind.
The episode concludes on a particularly strange note. After the Doctor has her friends; Hanne and her father sent out of the Solitract universe back into the Antizone, she finds herself in a white void.
In that white void there is…a frog on a chair. (laughs) The Doctor gradually realises that the Solitract has taken the form of a frog…with Grace’s voice…in order to keep her company in this odd universe.
You know something? I’ve reviewed plenty of ‘Doctor Who’ stories on my blog as well as movies and TV shows I like. Many of them have strange oddities within them that I can like and really appreciate.
This is especially when I like them and I appreciate them gradually over time, even if they don’t make sense initially. And yet…something like this…where a frog has Grace’s voice…is still pretty darn weird! 😀
But it also feels strangely appropriate for ‘Doctor Who’. I’m surprised Jodie’s Doctor didn’t kiss the frog to turn it into a prince. Instead, she blows a kiss at the frog before leaving the Solitract universe.
Actually as I think of it, I wonder if that’s the same frog Jodie’s Doctor got chased by when she was outside Buckingham Palace. That was in the ‘Rose’ Target novelization. I hope that gets resolved. 😀
Anyway, Jodie’s Doctor gets back into our universe and returns with her friends. All is well, as the Doctor, Ryan, Yaz and Graham say goodbye to Hanne and her father before returning to the TARDIS.
I liked the misty, spooky atmosphere featured in the Norway setting for this episode. It suits the story very well, especially when it misleads you into thinking that it is about something else entirely.
‘It Takes You Away’ has been a terrific ‘Doctor Who’ episode. It’s an episode that you need to watch more than once. I’m pleased I did when I went to London in March 2019 and saw it at home on Blu-ray.
I enjoyed what happened to the Doctor, Graham, Ryan and Yaz in the trap they seemed to have got themselves into within the Solitract universe. All was satisfying and entertainingly resolved for me. 🙂
As I said before, I was saddened about Series 11 coming to an end by this point. I’d enjoyed this season so far and I did wonder what was going to occur next in the season finale as it got previewed.
How would the first season of Jodie Whittaker’s era of ‘Doctor Who’ come to an end? Would it end on a satisfying note? Would our four main TARDIS characters survive? I hoped so the following week.
The DVD/Blu-ray special features on this episode are as follows. On Disc 3 of ‘The Complete Series 11’ of ‘Doctor Who’, there’s the ‘It Takes You Away’ – Closer Look’ featurette.
‘It Take You Away’ rating – 9/10
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